Still plenty of Heart

Sally Cole
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Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson are the creative sparks behind Heart, a rock group that found success in the 1980s and is currently on its first-ever Canada tour.

It has been 35 years since the rock band Heart exploded onto the Billboard charts with three singles from its debut album, Dreamboat Annie.

In just a few short weeks, Crazy On You, Magic Man and the title track became household names to music lovers.

Topping the charts brought huge changes to the lives of Americans Ann and Nancy Wilson, who had joined the Vancouver-based band in the early 1970s.

“We went from trying to get people interested in a band and some new songs to having our songs welcomed like old friends by audience members at our concerts,” says Ann, the daughter of a Marine Corps captain, who grew up in Southern California and Taiwan before settling in Seattle where she now lives.

Going from obscurity to fame is one of the many things she witnessed as one of the creative sparks behind Heart, a band with more than 30 million albums sold and 22 Top 40 hits over the past four decades.

Other things are more personal.

“I’ve also known what it’s like to struggle and work really hard against the brick wall that many women face when they try to become successful in the music business as anything other than cheesecake. I’ve had ups and downs, good and bad.

“But I’ve known moments when the door seems to be open and people are listening and understanding and ready to give credibility (to my music) on an equal basis. And those have been amazing moments.

“I also went from a girl of 22 to someone of my age who has tons of musical experience,” says the 57-year-old who will relive her musical journey when she joins her sister, Nancy (guitar and vocals), and their band on stage during the Heart Comes Home concert at the Charlottetown Civic Centre on Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m.

For Heart fans, old and new, it will be an evening to remember.

“We have a lot to show people. We are bringing our whole body of work — starting from the very beginning with songs like Dog and the Butterfly to our most recent work,” says Ann, adding the concert tour is in support of the band’s new album, Red Velvet Car.

The title track of the newest CD is a moving song about friendship.

“It’s about someone who would get up in the middle of the night to rescue a friend who is standing in the pouring rain,” she says.

Hey You, written by Nancy after the breakup of her marriage, is about the arc of a love affair.

“It’s really a great song. Even though it’s about something hard, there is an optimistic thread running through it because Nancy is a romantic. She believes in love. She believes it’s possible. She always will,” says Ann, adding she’s looking forward to showcasing the CD during the cross-Canada tour.

“We are really excited about this because we’ve never done a Canada-only, coast to coast, total immersion tour before. So if audiences in Charlottetown are anything like they are in the United States, where we perform constantly, it will be a pretty mixed demographic.

“There will be kids, their parents and their parents. So it should be interesting seeing the generations getting together,” says Ann, who continues to tour, performing 80 to 90 dates a year, and shows no signs of her slowing down.

“I’m pretty single-minded when it comes to music. There’s almost nothing in life that gets me off more than music. Music is my thing.”

Her secret to longevity in the music business?

“People would find me boring,” she says, with a laugh. “I don’t drink. I take vitamins and work out. I do 35 minutes of cardio, weights, pilates and yoga four times a week. It works.”


Heart’s formative years

Based in Vancouver, B.C., Heart was actually formed in 1963 by bassist Steve Fossen and brothers Roger and Mike Fisher.

Initially dubbed the Army, the band later became White Heart before settling on simply Heart at the beginning of the ‘70s.

After her arrival in the group, Ann became romantically involved with guitarist Mike Fisher.

When Nancy joined in 1974 she, in turn, began a relationship with guitarist Roger Fisher. Soon after Nancy’s arrival, Mike Fisher retired from active performing to become the band’s sound engineer. Roger Fisher retired from the group in 1979.

After gaining a following in Vancouver, Heart was approached by Canadian label Mushroom to record its debut album, Dreamboat Annie, in 1975.

Over the years musicians, have come and gone. Nancy and Ann Wilson are now the only original members of the band.



Spotlight on Ann Wilson

Current city: Seattle.

Advice to people hoping to break into the music industry: “If you’re not ready to give up everything, then you ought to keep your day job . . . . That’s because if you plan to take it really far and get up there on the world stage you have to be committed.”

Favourite pastime: “If I had a free afternoon, I would love to bury myself in listening to music and strumming and singing by myself.”

Websites: or

Organizations: Marine Corps, Charlottetown Civic Centre, Cross-Canada

Geographic location: Southern California, Seattle, Taiwan Vancouver, B.C. Canada Charlottetown United States

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Recent comments

  • Ann can still sing
    February 03, 2011 - 22:50

    I remember them opening for Queen in Leeds in '82; Joan Jett & The Black Hearts were there as well; Brian May says it was the best concert he ever played.

  • Les Pauls Rule
    January 29, 2011 - 12:11've got to start hanging out with a more honest group of friends.

  • Barry
    January 29, 2011 - 08:43

    Hi: Just a correction. Ann is 60 not 57. Thanks.

  • Bill Anderson
    January 29, 2011 - 06:59

    In Scotland many years ago a friend bought me this import album "Dreamboat Annie". I loved it from the start, it was so good that it was stolen from my house, then I went out and bought it again & had it stolen again, bought it again and had it stolen again. Finally got a lock on my music cabinet, lol. Love the music, the voices, harmonies, guitar playing, yes and the looks too. Two beautiful women blessed with a lot of talent who bring great sounds to their audience. As a fellow musician I love sounds like hteirs that make me want to pick up my guitar and join in or provide a little inspiration. Rock on girls!!

  • Robert Wilson
    January 29, 2011 - 02:12

    I have been a fan of Heart since the early days and recently downloaded their latest album. They are as good as ever.

  • Jarrod
    January 28, 2011 - 23:46

    Heart > Usher/Beyonce/Rihanna/Timberlake/other assorted pan flashes

  • jay evans
    January 28, 2011 - 21:21

    heard them a couple years ago in scranton,pa they were phenominal !!!

  • Leisa Simpson
    January 28, 2011 - 20:01

    Without a doubt, the best ladies in rock. I have loved you since the begining! Please...never stop rockin us!

  • Mojotillett
    January 28, 2011 - 19:46

    These are the only Rock girls. No one does it like them. As a matter of fact they just keep getting better. Their latest CD rocks!!! And when you see them live they usually throw in a Zep song and swear to god no one else could do Zep like they can. @MojoTillett

  • Sonia Cabarrus
    January 28, 2011 - 19:39

    I like them. Great voice, good music and good looks.

  • LIAM
    January 28, 2011 - 13:59

    " This Is Spinal Tap " ...nuff said.

  • Opinions Matter
    January 28, 2011 - 09:45

    Heart is awesome. They are in a category all there own. Hearts influence in music, has made them part of music history.